Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier hailed an inspired performance from stand-in skipper Ashley Young during the 4-1 demolition of Blackburn at Villa Park on Saturday.
Two goals from Young, plus a Stewart Downing strike and an own goal from Grant Hanley, completed the scoring for Villa while Rovers could only manage a consolation through Nikola Kalinic.
Young wore the armband in place of long term skipper Stiliyan Petrov who declined to take it off the England man when offered it when he came on as a late substitute, and Houllier said: "Ashley is an inspiring leader when he is on the pitch. I know the captain is Stiliyan when he plays but, when he is not playing, Ashley is a leader because of the efforts he puts in."
He added: "As the game goes on, his efficiency and work-rates goes on as well and does not diminish.
"I like him to play in that (central) position to be fair. He can be a real specialist.
"He can be a striker and he can also be a link between the midfield and the attack."
Veteran midfielder Robert Pires also impressed Houllier in having his best game for Villa.
Houllier said: "The game Robert played against Blackburn in the FA Cup gave him match fitness and confidence.
"In training he has been good, nearly scoring and making goals, so I thought he would bring something.
"It was his best game for Villa. He was more confident at taking the ball."
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